Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Broccoli Potato Soup With (No) Fresh Herbs

Simple, healthy, warm and easy. This soup (and a glass of wine, of course) was a great way to wind down on a cool fall day.

This was one of the easiest dishes I've made from the book. And easy usually pleases me. It was also very healthy, with just a few simple ingredients.

While I can't claim it was amazing, which is partly because I'm just not a "soup person," it was undoubtedly good.

I admit that I didn't use any of the fresh herbs. When I saw each would cost me $2-3, I couldn't bear to part with those dollars just for a soup garnish that would be tasted and gone in the flash of a pan. Sometimes the condiment or topping can make or break a dish, but in this case, I wasn't too worried about it.

One tip: Our immersion blender didn't do much to the broccoli other than spin it around, so I ended up putting about 1/3 - 1/2 of the broccoli, along with some broth, in the blender. This gave the soup a bit of added thickness and color, too.

This was also one of the cheaper dishes I've made in a while. It was roughly $6-7. And since it was one pot, the cleanup was also a breeze.

Because of the healthiness, simplicity and price of it, I'm sure we'll make it again on a cold winter night.

This recipe is on page 138 of Veganomicon.

Eggplant-Potato Moussaka With Pine Nut Cream

Although this dish is labeled as a Greek casserole, it could easily pass as Italian, at least in my opinion. But that's irrelevant, as all that really matters was how good it was. And healthy, too.

The biggest challenge of this meal was getting my husband to agree to eat it without appearing to be trying to hold back vomit. Not because of how it looked or ultimately tasted, but because it contained two of his least loved ingredients, eggplant and zucchini. While I'm sure the thought of this meal put a damper on his day (since he lives in the future most of the time) he graciously agreed to eat it and was pleasantly surprised. Not thrilled, not asking me to make it again, but just pleasantly surprised.

I, on the other hand, thought it was very good and I especially loved that pine nut cream. Those gals were right when they said the testers especially loved that part. I can already see using that as a "ricotta" in a lasagna.

The dish was hearty, rich and delicious. My least favorite part was probably the shallots as they seemed a little bit harder than I thought they would be. The zucchini could also have been roasted maybe a bit longer as it was still quite firm while the eggplant and potato were very tender.

Since Bryan didn't want the leftovers (no surprise there) I've been eating them for the last few days. It's just as good as leftovers as it was the first night.

The price wasn't great, but not ridiculous. I'd say it was in the range of $10-11.

This recipe is on page 164 of Veganomicon.

Leek And Bean Cassoulet With Biscuits

There's never been a pot pie, or a pot pie alternative, that I haven't liked. This was no exception.

Besides being one of my favorite types of dishes, that being a one-dish meal, it was rich, delicious and healthy. While I can't say it was any more amazing than the superb pot pie my sister and husband make, it was a very satisfying alternative and, because of the biscuits instead of crust, all that much easier to make.

The biscuits turned out well, too, having a thin crust on the outside with a moist (but not too moist) inside.

This meal will definitely go into the rotation for several reasons: the cost was reasonable (about $8-$9), it was relatively quick, and both the preparation and cleanup were easy.

This is on page 172 of Veganomicon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Potato And Kale Enchiladas With Roasted Chile Sauce

This dish was wonderful, rich, warm and filling. It was also very authentic.

It was also a two-plus hour endeavor. But that's the point of the name of this blog. I am not going to be uninhibited with my cooking. Normally I would have seen this recipe and been like "oh, hell no!" With that said, I still plan on going back to, at least partially, being a lazy, inhibited cook once I'm done going through the book.

Anyway, back to the food. The enchiladas were certainly a labor of love, but the result was (mostly) worth it. They were hearty and full of flavor with just a little kick of zest from the lime juice. The kale gave the filling a nice chew, while the pepitas added just a little bit of crunch. The sauce was also a winner, rich and flavorful with a hint of spice.

By the way, the only substitute I used for this meal was instead of an Anaheim chile I used a poblano pepper. It was the closest I could find.

As for the Mexican Millet, it sure did take a while (45 minutes, but hey, that's what they said) but tasted so much like authentic Mexican rice. I'll definitely make that again as it was simple and healthy as well.

This may have been the most expensive dish yet from the book. It was roughly around $20 for all the ingredients. Okay, that just scared me. That's more than most meals we eat out. So, aside from the spend-the-whole-night-cooking thing, I probably won't be making this dish often because, well, I'm a tightwad. Sure, laugh at me now, but just wait 30 years.

But this dish is well worth making at least once.

This recipe is on page 162 of Veganomicon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tangerine Baked Tofu

This was probably one of the most interesting dishes I've made so far. And best of all, Bryan went from thinking he really wasn't going to like it to an almost incessant "ummm" fest. He immediately demanded that I make it again soon.

The tangerine tofu was chewy, moist, sweet and tangy. As far as tofu goes, it was simply amazing. I was worried that the citrus flavors would be too much, but it was just the right amount of zest and tang. And because I didn't even have any dark rum to use, I suspect it will be even better next time.

By the way, I should have mentioned this long ago, but one of the ingredients I *always* substitute in the book is any type of oil that isn't either canola or olive. I'm sure there are a couple of dishes where the oil type makes somewhat of a difference, but in my experience, oil is oil, and the cheaper the better. These meals in the book aren't exactly economical, so anywhere you can save money without sacrificing taste is a good thing.

They didn't have any tangerines at the store, so another substitute I used for this dish was using one orange and one tangelo instead. I didn't know what a tangelo was until I just now Googled it.

For the side, I made the Quinoa Salad with Black Bean and Mango (page 127). It was very colorful and a perfect complement to the tofu, as it was mild, lightly sweet and crunchy with a background of earthiness from the onion.

While I'm talking about the salad, let me also mention one ingredient I will NEVER use: cilantro! Hate it hate it hate it. It's vile, disgusting and vomit worthy. There. Glad to have that out in the open. Anyway, I digress, back to the salad.

This was my first time using Quinoa, which apparently is becoming the grain (or pseudocereal, more precisely) of the moment. Or, at least that's how it seems. I hear about it a lot more now, compared to not even knowing what it was a year ago. The great thing is that it's a complete protein. Make sure to click on the picture above to see the detail in the quinoa. Ain't it cute?

This was also my first time buying and using a mango. I've always been a little ambivalent about mangoes, if not a bit intimidated by them, but they were the best fruit for this salad. Just the right amount of sweetness and of course, very tender.

The difficulty factor on this meal was low and the time factor was not too bad, either. Price-wise, this one was pricey. That damn mango alone was $4. Overall, the cost was probably around $14-$15.

This recipe is one page 126 of Veganomicon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Smoky Grilled Tempeh

First things first. I made this dish with the Sauteed Collards (pg 106) and the Cheater Baked Beans (page 122). And the surprising star of this dish was definitely the sauteed collards! More on that in a minute.

Overall this was a great meal. Each part was delicious. And surprisingly not too difficult to prepare and cook considering it was three different dishes. The price was maybe a tad more than I like to spend on a home-cooked meal (roughly around $10) but certaily reasonable.
This meal included two ingredients I had never cooked with before: molasses (seriously?) and liquid smoke. And let me say that after eating this dish I posted "I heart liquid smoke" on my Facebook status.
The tempeh was tender and delicious. But as I said, the star was the collards. The marinade used for the tempeh was the same one used in preparing the collards, but whoa did those collards really soak that stuff up! They absorbed every ounce of flavor from that marinade, I think. The flavor was a teriffic blend of sweet and salty with the extra boost of smokiness from the liquid smoke. Ah-ma-zing. The best part was the Bryan was looking forward to that dish the least of the three, but in the end liked it the best.
The beans were good, too. They had a bit more of a "tomatoey" flavor than I prefer, but we still liked them. We actually like our baked beans a bit more on the sweeter side, too. Sometime I'll have to post the recipe for this "Gourment Baked Beans" recipe we got from Bryan's mom. I could live off those things (okay, that and those crutons for the Caesar Salad). They're sticky, sweet, salty and have a deep flavor.

This recipe is on page 130 of Veganomicon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Basic Broiled Tofu

This one is definitely going into our rotation. You know, that rotation that will start up way in the future once I'm done going through the entire Veganomicon book.

Anyway, this dish was easy, delicious and relatively affordable.

We (I don't know why I sometimes say "we" instead of "I"...I guess I just think of our cooking as a joint experience even though we each do all the cooking on our own) used the freeze/thaw/squeeze method on the tofu (as we almost always do). It really soaked up the braising sauce, which was light, fresh and tasty.

One recommendation on broiling the tofu. I put the tofu on the next to the bottom rack and even then it got as dark as it did by following the timing in the recipe. I was surprised they didn't mention that in the book, but perhaps we have some super broiler (I doubt that).

For serving, I went with the stuffing it into a something-made-with-flour-that-can-hold-it idea. They recommend pitas, but I used whole wheat tortillas (big ones) instead. I made the Dill-Tahini sauce (pg. 215) as well and cut up some tomato, onion and chopped lettuce and spinach to stuff in with the tofu.

For a side dish, I oven roasted some chopped carrots, green pepper and onion, which were slim pickins, but tasty, after the oven got done with them. I may not do this next time because, as you know, I'm a lazy cook.

This is on page 126 of Veganomicon.